CLEARWATER, Fla. - By a count of seven to five, a Pinellas County jury recommended that convicted murderer Ralph Wright be put to death for killing his lover and their 15-month-old child.
Wright, a former Air Force Sergeant once stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, was found guilty Thursday.
Prosecutors say Wright didn't want to pay child support so he strangled his girlfriend, Paula O'Connor and suffocated their young boy, Alijah in 2007. The boy had serious medical problems, and for a long time, they argued, Wright denied the child was even his.
In detailing a web of lies, multiple mistresses and a double life that included a wife in Orlando, prosecutors told the jury O'Conner and Alijah were burdens to Wright. The prosecution said Wright didn't want Alijah interfering with that bachelor-type lifestyle he so enjoyed.
Upon his conviction, O'Connor's daughter, Victoria Christopher said it was "Such a relief to have a guilty verdict. I'm very, very happy."
Several of O'Connor's relatives sat through the month-long trial, anxiously waiting for the verdict. "It'll never go away. I'll always remember them. There will always be pain there. I think my family and myself can put this behind us a little bit and move on," said Christopher.
Wright's family had no comment, but could be seen crying after the guilty verdict was announced Thursday.
A judge will decide by March 8, if Wright is to be sentenced to the death penalty.